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FILIPINO AMERICAN LIBRARY'S 6TH ANNUAL SPIRIT AWARDS
Did the Filipino Community Discovered Their "James Brown?"
Night where the Filipino communities honored Allan Pindea (Apl de Ap), John Chiang,
Washington Mutual, Filipino American Service Group (FASGI) and AB-CBS Global)

 

The Filipino American Library’s 6th Annual Spirit Awards honored Allan Pineda (APL.DE.AP) - a member of the hip-hop band the Black Eyed Peas with its “Role Model Award,” whose pioneering achievement highlights the success, integration,incorporation and strengths of the Filipino American communities within the multicultural society that exist within the United States. He has leveraged his success in the immensely popular Black Eyed Peas to write the song “Bebot” (Tagalog slang for “hot chick” and on the multiplantinum-selling album “Monkey Business” released in June 2005)that describes his journey from a poverty-stricken district in the Philippines to Los Angeles' Atwater Village.

“Bebot” galvanized California’s Filipino American community (as by its popularity at weddings and birthday parties) and revealed to many Filipinos/Filipinas their musical and historical heritage – especially for those who haven’t embraced OPM (Overseas Pilipino Music – Gary V., Kuh Ledesmo, Sharon Cuneta, Jose Marie Chan, Eraserheads, Jay R, etc.), their history (via awareness of past "FilipinoTowns" - along with those that started their knowledge of their community's history with the recent Centennial Celebrations) and exposing them to the language of their culture - Tagalog.

Apl de Ap has started the process for music and videos on issues that directly reflect the Asian/Asian Pacific American communities from prominent artists to be played on American TV such as MTV and VH1. His willingness to self-finance "Bebot" have set forth in motion and serioiusness to share stories that are important to him. Even though he didn't achieve his ultimate goal of American airplay, he stated that "The main purpose was to get this (video/music) out to the Filipino community. People don't realize there's a huge one in America." Could the next step be a video(s) with an Asian/Asian Pacific Ameican theme produced and performed with artists such as with Apl de Ap/Black Eyed Peas, Chad Hugo/The Neptunes, Don "The Terminator" and M.I.A.?

The night also honored John Chiang - Chair, State Board of Equalization, AS-CBS Global, LTD., Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI) and Washington Mutual. The night included the appearances/participation of Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World), Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba), Cheryl Burke ("Dancing with the Stars”), Angela Perez Baraquio (Miss America 2001), Camile Velasco ("American Idol" Season 3) and the always entertaining Fritz Friedman (Sony Pictures, Worldwide).

The night and its honorees highlighted the fact that "unlike other Asian immigrants, Filipinos have the English language skills that lead to quicker assimilation to mainstream culture" (Wendy Leung – AsianWeek on September 8, 2006) – in addition to Indian immigrants (to a less known perception) – and have adapted/embrace/integrated within the American entertainment industry more quickly. This has resulted in the Filipino communities’ quick assimilation into the American culture and their English abilities (many Filipinos arrived in the U.S. speaking English) have limited the community’s need and/or desire to have “Filipino” neighborhoods to feel "comfortable," as compared to other ethnic groups – Asian or non-Asian. This has resulted in the general perception of artists such as Apl de Ap, Tia Carrere, Cheryl Burke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rob Schneider and others as American artists, as ooppose to an Asian/Asian American artist/performer.

The Filipino American communities' abilitiy to assimlate quickly and culturally adapt have short-circuited language issues that have “separated” other Asian communities to the general public that has continued a “foreigner” perception. In contract, the inability to quickly assimlate and/or speak English have defined, separate, isolate and/or strengthen other Asian-ethnic communities such as the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai and others that have led to the formation of ethnic-specific enclaves for their respective immigrant generation. These very same issues have been the subject of debate within the Filipino and Asian communities on what is a true definition of an Asian Pacific American? Note: It is interesting that many within the Filipino American communities are seeking to establish and/or remember past Filipino Towns ("Little Manila") communities to remember their history that will illuninate what paths are available in the future.

Entertainment filled the night as it ranged from a vocal group providing professional music renditions of songs normally heard in a night club or Filipino parties, uplifting moments of ballroom dancing, an operatic-type singer trying her best to sing pop songs and ending with Tia Carrere’s enjoyable renditions of Tin Pan Alley song standards. However, the memorable moments started with Tia Carrere’s introduction exclaiming that Pineda’s story is the American dream to the music of “Bebot” that brought everybody to their feet. The well-dressed Pineda continued saying a few words of thanks in Tagalog, dedicating the award to his Filipino mother and adoptive father (both in attendance) and thanking the Filipino community for their support by proclaiming “I want to thank the Filipino community for embracing me as a Filipino artist in this game. I represent Filipinos every day, every second – I’m a proud Filipino.” Then Pineda leaped offstage like a heavyweight fighter that has just won the world title as “Bebot” pumped up the crowd even more.

As he was leaving, I was thinking - could Allan Pineda possibly be the Filipino community’s James Brown? The Godfather of Soul proclaim “”Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” At the Filipino American Library’s 6th Annual Spirit Awards, Apl de Ap says “You’re Filipino – shout it out, If you’re beautiful – shout it out, If your life is valuable – shout it out!

FILIPINO AMERICAN LIBRARY HONOREES

Allan Pineda grew up in a slum outside Angeles City on the island of Luzon. His mother was Filipino. He never met his father, who was an American in the U.S. Air Force. His first connection to the U.S. came when a charity group found him an American sponsor, who started sending him the equivalent of 7 cents a day to help pay for food. Pineda had problems with his eyes, so his sponsor — a deputy Los Angeles County counsel named Joe Ben Hudgens and single parent — adopted him so he could receive better medical care in the U.S. After his mother agreed and seven years of waiting, he arrived to live with Hudgens, a deputy Los Angeles County counsel at Atwater Village in 1989.

Pineda attended John Marshall High School and immersed himself in the multicultural environment and the local hip-hop scene. He went to parties at homes and nightclubs across Southern California, where he made connections that led to the formation of the Black Eyed Peas. The group rose to prominence in the late 1990s with an upbeat brand of rap and stunning dance moves. Their multiculturalism — Filipino, Latino and black members — set them apart.

John Chiang (born July 31, 1962 in New York City) is a Democratic politician and has been California State Controller since January 8, 2007. He previously served as Chair of the California Board of Equalization and represented the Fourth District, primarily serving southern Los Angeles County.

Chiang is the oldest son of four children from immigrant parents from Taiwan. He was born in New York City and grew up within the first Asian Pacific American family in their Chicago district. He graduated with honors with a degree in Finance from the University of South Florida and has a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He came to Los Angeles in 1987 where he got involved with the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley (DP/SFV).

Chiang began his career as a tax law specialist for the IRS. He worked as an attorney for then California State Controller Gray Davis, and also worked on the staff of California Senator Barbara Boxer. He was first elected to office as Member of the Board of Equalization in 1998 and elected to a second four-year term in 2002.

Filipino American Service Group - As a non-profit agency, the Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI), provides social services to low-income and homeless individuals, with the language and cultural capacity to serve Asian Pacific-Islanders (API's) in Los Angeles County. With funding from city, county, state and federal levels, as well as private in-kind donations, FASGI offers the following services: Information & Referral, Education and Outreach Services,Transitional Housing Shelter, Case Management, Independent Living Skills Training and Socialization and Recreation

Washington Mutual - From checking accounts and online banking to personal loans, Washington Mutual's Retail Banking and Financial Services segment offers a comprehensive line of deposit and other retail banking products and services to consumers. The Retail Banking and Financial Services segment also provides products and services to small businesses and assists them with payroll, cash management, and retirement planning.

WM Financial Services is a full-service brokerage firm that specializes in helping individuals meet their financial goals. The segment offers a broad range of investment products, including individual retirement accounts (IRAs), fixed annuities, life insurance, stocks and bonds as well as retirement and estate planning. The segment also offers mutual funds, including those in the affiliated mutual fund family, WM Group of Funds.


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